The Roundup -

Halloween Night


October 18, 2017 | View PDF

My opinion of Halloween has changed drastically through the years. I have come full circle in the process, beginning with an initial delight in the fall celebration as a child, growing to dislike the Halloween pranks as a young adult, and now as an older woman I have once again embraced this fall festival with anticipation.

I enjoyed Halloween as a child. In those ancient of days communities still hosted Halloween parades and I always entered the town parade hoping my costume would win a prize. Of course, we always made our own costumes as no one thought of purchasing a premade outfit from a store. Neighboring farm fields provided us with corn husks if we wished to change ourselves into scarecrows. A derelict rubber mask we had for years served as a face for a witch one year and a tired old hobo another year. Sheets served as ghost outfits, and cardboard boxes cut and shaped could literally transform us into just about anything our imaginations dreamed up.

As a teenager, I played clarinet in the high school band, and the band always led the parade through town. I enjoyed marching in the band on parade night and the block party afterwards never failed to provide interesting entertainment, delectable hot mulled cider or hot chocolate, and tasty treats.

After I grew up, married, and moved far, far away, my opinion of Halloween plummeted. I didn't like the trick or treating, as more often than not the evening turned into a night of vandalism. The so-called tricks ruined Halloween for me, and I breathed a sigh of relief when November 1 arrived. I also resented handing out treats to kids I didn't know and who walked the streets pestering everyone for free handouts.

When I reached my mid-40s, I divorced from my husband and moved to eastern Montana to live near my sister. Halloween became interesting and entertaining once again. I had family nearby to help celebrate, and I began to host Halloween dinners each year for my sister and her husband. Occasionally a neighbor or two would attend the Halloween festivities as well.

To prepare for these Halloween meals, I perused recipe books, leafed through fall magazines that offered ideas and fanciful twists on ordinary food. Eventually I collected a whole drawerful of Halloween recipes, from witch's fingers to big foot to shrunken heads to pickled brains. Each recipe and picture of what the food should look like made me chuckle. I had almost as much fun deciding on what to serve as I did at the actual dinner itself. I also made it a priority to have a different menu each year, with the meal featuring a variety of spooky, fun-filled foods baked to resemble many different Halloween themes.

I'll never forget my first Halloween feast with my brother -in-law and sister. I announced that evening as they waited at the table that the main entre would be Big Foot. My brother-in-law blanched, then asked me what I really was serving. I responded again that we would be eating Big Foot. He became somewhat irritated and told me he liked to know exactly what he was eating before he tried it.

I whipped the foil off my entrée so he could see he really would have a meal of meat loaf, baked in the shape of a large foot, complete with toes.

When I met my husband, the fun kicked up a notch. My husband happens to have his birthday on the 31st of October. What fun, Halloween and a birthday combined. Now we could really have an interesting evening. I pointed out to my husband that the whole country joins in to celebrate his birthday. All the decorations and fall themed decorations visible in many front yards really helped put us in the festive spirit.

I redoubled my efforts to provide a Halloween evening as well as a birthday party. The birthday cake became a cause for great contemplation. The Internet offered a whole range of cake ideas so I never lacked for an interesting cake to bake. My sister added to the fun by presenting my husband with Halloween themed wind-up toys, masks, and other paraphernalia relating to the ghostly celebration.

All good things come to an end eventually as situations change and people move on. My sister and her husband moved to Washington State and my husband and I moved to Virginia City here in western Montana. I still have Halloween birthdays for my husband but I no longer cook the meal. Instead we eat at the Virginia City Café. The proprietor and I put our heads together prior to the evening and plan a meal, particularly the cake. We gather ideas from the Internet, we select an appropriate cake, and she picks the entrée and what she will serve with it. The evening of the dinner, a magnificent themed Halloween cake, made and decorated on the premises, ends the birthday meal. The staff always sings Happy Birthday to my husband as they present him with his cake.

This year the proprietor has found a gem of a themed cake to bake and decorate. I can't wait to see my husband's face when the staff presents him with this masterpiece. It ought to produce a lot of laughs. Other patrons in the cafe during the presentation of the cake help eat dessert, so everyone has a good time and joins in the celebration.

So, I am looking forward with great glee to this year's Halloween/birthday celebration. I will remind my husband how special he is as the whole town will have decorations on display to commemorate his special day.

Happy Halloween.


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